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Papa Joe  ~  Telling Tales

The Magical Blue Feather, the saddest tale told by Papa Joe

this is an e-version of an alternative story book from Clap Books and dedicated to my sons

Once there was a little girl. She had no mother. She had no father. She had no sisters nor any brothers.

Her name was Amber, but no one had spoken to her in a long, long time.

She lived alone in a small room below an empty building. The building stood eight stories high of rotting wood and stone. No one else lived near. The whole neighborhood was full of rotting buildings. Amber lived there alone.

It had once been a fine neighborhood, but that was before the plague had come. The sickness had killed most of the people. It took Amber's family and left her alone. The other survivors fled. Amber lived alone for a long time.

Her clothes were rags. She wore what she could find. But to eat she would slip quietly through the alleys to the other side of the city, the part of the city where people still lived. She would hide in the shadows and watch for some morsel of food that she thought she could take with out being caught.

People scared her more than anything else. When she first lost her family she had tried to find help, but the people had screamed, "Plague" and threw stones at her until she ran back into the ruins.

Later some people tried to catch her, but by then she knew her way through the empty buildings and could hide where no one would find her. Now she stayed hidden. She stayed alone.

One day, Amber slipped through the shadows to a market place. She was so hungry. She saw an apple cart quite near the alley. No one seemed to be around so she stole two apples.

Quickly, she turned to run back into the alley and ran into the apple vender himself.

"Where are you going with my apples, little thief?" he barked.

Amber screamed. She tried to run around the man, but he was too fast. He grabbed her by her shirt and held her tight. "Where do you think you're going, girl."

Amber didn't even know what he was saying. She had been alone too long to remember what words meant. All she knew was that she was afraid and she had to get away. She struggled. Her shirt ripped apart. She was free and running down the alley.

But the voice followed her. "Stop thief! Someone stop that thief!"

She heard footfalls behind her. Someone was chasing her. Someone was chasing her and they were catching up. Then she saw the hole. It was a drain hole. One of the many drain holes in the city, but the grate wasn't on this one. She ran to the drain and climbed down its ladder. She stood in the water at the bottom and waited.

Two of the city guardsmen were standing above the drain. "Little one, come back up out of that hole," said one. "We won't hurt you," said the other. But Amber didn't know what they were saying. She was shaking with fear and she stayed down in the dark drain.

The guardsmen were talking to each other. "Should we go down and try to find her?"

The other cried, "Are you a fool? Those drains are a maze. They twist and turn all through the city. We'd be lost in no time. Besides, did you see her clothes? She probably lives in those tunnels. She'll be far away already. The best thing we can do is close up this hole so she doesn't come back up this way. Our apple vender will be mad enough that we didn't catch the poor thief."

They lifted the heavy grate and covered the hole.

Amber stayed until their footstep were gone. Then she climbed the ladder and tried to push open the grate. It was too heavy for her. Most people would be afraid to be trapped in the dark, but Amber had lived most of her life in dark places. She dropped back into the darkness and started following the tunnel.

The water was ankle deep. As she waded it rose to her knees. Sometimes she would pass under another grate, but only a little sunshine would pass through. There wasn't any way for her to get out. She came to a place where the water was still. It rose to her waist. She was cold and miserable. Part of her wanted to give up and slip into the dark water forever. But another part made her move on.

She felt as if she had been wading in the dark forever. She guided herself by sliding her hand against the rough wall. She was getting so tired, she could hardly walk. She was moving so slowly, she wasn't sure she was moving at all. Finally, the water began to recede. As it dropped back to her ankles, the wall she had guided herself by was gone. She hadn't realized how much she had depended on that wall to keep her balance until it was gone and she fell into the opening it left behind.

She fell onto a flight of steps. They went up. At last, she could climb up out of the water. Amber climbed up the stairs. She climbed until she was so weary that she fell. She didn't fall far, but she was too tired to continue climbing. She fell asleep on those cold hard steps and slept for a long time.

When she awoke she was cold and stiff, but up the stairs she climbed. She climbed on and on until she began to feel that she'd been climbing forever. At last, she came to a door.

She felt for a latch and found it. The door opened. Amber stepped into a blue glow. After the darkness, the light seemed blinding. The blue glow came from everywhere. As her eyes adjusted she could see that she was in a room filled with tables and shelves. On them she could see vials and bottles filled with liquids and powders.

Amber didn't know it, but she was high above the city in a tower without windows or doors. It was built by a wizard who had disappeared long before Amber was born.

In the middle of the room, Amber found a table with only two things on it, a large book and a blue feather. She couldn't read so she left the book alone. But the feather looked so soft and lovely she couldn't resist picking it up. It felt soft and warm.

She held the feather as she walked around the room looking for a way out. She couldn't find any doors except the one she came in through. She was so sad. She wished that she was back in her own room, safe in the place she knew so well.

Suddenly, there was a great blue flash and Amber was standing in her room. How she had gotten there she didn't know nor did she care. She curled up in the corner and fell asleep.

When Amber awoke she was terribly hungry. She wished she didn't have to go back out to find food. Again, there was a great flash of blue and lying in front of Amber was more food than she had ever seen. She ate and ate until she couldn't eat anymore.

Then she began to wonder about the food and how she had gotten back to her room. She remembered the blue feather. It was lying in her bed. She must have slept with it. Was it the feather that gave her what she wanted? She held the feather and thought about what she wanted more that anything else in the world.

She wished for a family to keep her safe. She wished for a family so she wouldn't be alone. A family like she had had so long ago.

There was another great blue flash and Amber's room was empty. But out in the night, on the other side of the city, a baby was born. As it cried out with it's first breath, the mother said, "It a girl, isn't it? I think I'll call her Amber."

Papa Joe  ~  Telling Tales

Papa  Joe  ~  Telling  Tales

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